With the abundance of cute goat videos and photos on the internet, it is no wonder that more and more people are getting into goat keeping. Aside from the undeniable cuteness and the fact that your family is pleading for some kids of their own, here are seven practical reasons your homestead needs goats.
1. Weed Control
Many people first decide to buy goats because of weeds. They have been told that goats will cut their lawn care chores in half. They may not have heard that while goats will definitely eat weeds, they also chew on everything else – trees, bushes, plants, furniture, etc. Their powers of destruction are legendary and are not limited to the weeds.
2. Goat Milk
Goat milk has most of the same great benefits of cow’s milk but it also tends to be easier to digest for many people. Enzymes in goat’s milk allow individuals to enjoy milk without stomach issues.
Higher buttermilk content and a rich consistency have made goat milk a necessity for the homesteader who enjoys making cheese, butter, and ice cream. The market for artisan goat cheese (especially flavored with herbs from the garden) has skyrocketed as people discover this tasty treat.
Soap makers have also caught on to the craze. Goat milk soap is a sought-after luxury that has its own following and a large share of the handcrafted market. This rich soap is great for those with sensitive skin conditions.
Many countries around the world depend on goat meat as it is economical and nutritious. While any goat can be used for meat, it is a good idea to choose a breed or certain crosses to get the best quality and amount of meat possible.
Boer goats tend to be the first choice when it comes to a meat breed in America. They have a large frame, are hardy, grow quickly, and are easy to keep on the homestead. Many farmers will cross the Boer with other breeds when they desire a multi-purpose goat for meat, dairy, and fiber.
4. Fiber or Wool
Angora or Cashmere goats are known for their fine mohair and cashmere wool. They are first on any list for fiber goats, but there are many breeds that will provide some type of usable fiber. Fiber artists, knitters, and spinners provide a constant demand for the raw fibers while their finished textiles command high dollars.
Raising multi-purpose animals means having one animal that can fulfill many needs. Goats are no exception as they can also be raised for the leather from their hides. Once again the Boer goat breed is a popular choice as their hide is prized by leatherworkers. Goat hides have long been used for warmth, utility, and decoration.
While goats pulling carts are often seen as a novelty, using goats as a beast of burden is a centuries-old tradition across the world. Many villages still use goats for transporting goods, especially in steep or rocky terrain where nimble goats excel. Goats are easily trainable to carry packs and pull wagons or even a small garden plow. They truly are a multi-purpose animal whose small size make them ideal for homesteaders with less acreage.
The entertainment value derived from having goats can’t be measured. The nature of these intelligent and inquisitive animals ensures lots of amusement. The kids bouncing off anything in their path is just the first level of entertainment. Goats can become affectionate pets who are nosy and enjoy being involved in everything you do.
Things to Consider Before Getting Goats
All of the above reasons show the benefits of adding goats to your homestead. But you must keep in mind that goats do require care and maintenance. Here are a few things to know before you take the plunge:
- Choose your goats according to what you want them for. A goat that is bred for heavy milk production might not produce the best fiber or meat or vice versa.
- Study the breed or type of goat you end up picking. Specific nutritional or environmental needs may differ.
- Design your goat shelter, pen, or housing carefully. Goats are a prey animal and they are also masters of escape. If you think your pen is safe from predators and escapees, check again.
- Plan to spend time with your animals. They are curious, devious, and incredibly smart. Aside from their playful antics, they are a joy to just hang out with, and they make great pets.
Once you have chosen a goat breed or type, begin your search with reputable breeders or a local goat club. If they can’t accommodate your needs, they will most likely be able to point you in the direction of someone who can.
If you are like most people who decide to “try goats out” for whatever reason, you will soon find that these interesting creatures have inserted themselves into your life – for good.